Dream of the future, and you’re sure to get something that tells you more about the past. Here is a set of postcards from 1900, illustrating what they thought life would be like in 2000. It looks like a kind of steampunk opium dream, with everyone dressed in Victorian fashion, either puttering about outside with parasols or standing about in cluttered drawing rooms. All of the inventions are weirdly off in a charming way.
For instance, they foresaw television, sort of. I guess that might be a kind of LCD home projection system—we don’t make them out of bakelight, though, and I can’t quite picture us all standing around holding handsets to our ears to hear what’s going on.
Now this one is really nifty. We get a laugh out of Gernsback era visions of a future with flying cars, all streamlined and equipped with fins and bubble domes, but the 1900 version of the same is a little more sedate and bucolic: we’d all have our own personal zeppelins. The whole family would climb into a little wicker basket and loft gently into the air, and then the little propellor would whirl and you’d waft off to your destination. It all looks so very civilized.
I’m intrigued by the ornithopterish things in the background, too. I never did get my own personal zeppelin, or my own personal ornithopter, or my own personal flying Buick. We’ve been ripped off by the future … although I will admit that we’ve got much better home entertainment systems than they imagined.